Happy Star Wars Day, everybody! To celebrate: cameo-fest at Against The Shadows – see how many you can count! Answers at the end. They’re not all named, nor does everybody named necessarily show up in person, but I’ve tried to make everybody recognizable. Vignettes in and around the Temple, all on the same day, featuring friends, foes, and a few first meetings.
Anything else to say before I start? Oh yeah. The title. It’s Latin. It means “For Just Today”.
0700 hours: Skye, Sector H-19, Outer Rim.
“It’s too early,” muttered the Padawan under his breath. “Even if anyone lives in this ruin they’ll still be asleep.”
“Hush, Garen. We were told to come here as soon as we could.” Clee Rhara leaned forward to knock again on the weather-beaten front door of the last intact house in the narrow street. While the house next door was reduced to a blackened brick façade, and the one on the other side merely a pile of rubble, this still stood, rearing cliff-like straight from the pavement. Even though it was bullet-pocked, with boarded-up windows on all five floors, the house seemed in better shape than its street-mates. Clee sighed. Probably the owner had simply up and left, fleeing the war-torn city.
The door opened a crack, revealing a tall, anxious-looking man with wispy fair hair and the sunken eyes that come with protracted sleeplessness.
“Master Jedi. I’m afraid I can’t ask you in… these uncertain times…”
“Quite. The boy?”
Turning back into the gloom of the entry-hall, the man called softly, “Kijé! They’re here.” The door opened a little farther, and a small, thin boy with unruly black hair and solemn sea-green eyes stood beside the man and bowed politely.
“Kijé Yenseh at your service, Masters Jedi.”
Clee bowed back, trying not to laugh at such gravity in a youngling. “I am Clee Rhara. My apprentice Garen Muln and I have come to take you to the Jedi Temple at Coruscant.”
He nodded like a little mechanical doll, and bent to pick up a rather dirty canvas rucksack from a corner of the hall. “I know. I am ready.”
No tears. No regret. Curious. Garen asked abruptly, “Don’t you have to say your farewells?”
“Of course.” As the boy Kijé raised his arms to hoist the rucksack onto his back, his faded blue tunic, unbelted, fell open in front. He pulled it hastily back into place, but not before Garen had had time to see that his ribs showed clearly under not enough flesh. Sticking out his hand to the man at the door, he said crisply, “Thank you for everything, sir. Goodbye.” Silently, the man took the proffered hand and shook it. Kijé turned to Garen. “Let’s go.”
“He’s not your father?”
For the first time, a smile touched the boy’s pale lips: a very faint, very old smile, like Master Yoda’s, knowing much but telling little. “Oh, no. My parents were blown up with our house -” he indicated the pile of rubble, “last year. It doesn’t matter.”
He walked to the end of the bombed-out street, where he stood and waited for Clee and Garen to join him.
1000 hours: Saalis, Sector H-13, Outer Rim.
Here Clee sent Garen into the spaceport alone while she waited on the ship with Kijé.
“Should be simple. The family of this youngling have said they’ll send someone to meet you in the port, hand the kid over, and that’s that. Even you can’t mess this up too comprehensively.”
Walking through the white stone arch of the tiny spaceport, Garen was uncomfortably aware that everybody was staring at him, some more vulgarly open-mouthed than others, to be sure, but even the ladylike women, veiled to the eyes, watched discreetly. There seemed to be only two species on this world: a race of tall, ruthless-faced Humans with fair hair and skin but dark brown eyes, and a blue-skinned species, whose hair was feathery and metallic in color, and who set off the vivid markings on their faces with bright, strong colored clothing. The two peoples obviously distrusted each other, and both distrusted him.
He was to wait by the landside door of the port until the child he had come to collect turned up. It didn’t take long. One of the blue-skinned men, looking to be only a little older than Garen himself, came up to him almost at once, holding a little girl by the hand, and with two other children following him at a wary distance.
“You are the Jedi?” he enquired bluntly.
“Garen Muln. Jedi, yes, that’s right,” stumbled Garen.
He nodded crisply. “This is yours. Her name is Imeltaneska-Kaliu Hrabe, surnamed Threeb.” Noticing Garen’s puzzled glance at the other children, twin boys with identical shy smiles, the man added, “My brothers. They insisted on coming to say goodbye to our sister.” From a satchel slung over his shoulder, he produced a slim file bound in old-fashioned paper. “This is her records. I’ve had them translated into Basic, but the translator was a fool – what do you expect from a slave? – so the originals are there as well, just in case.”
“Thanks.” Tucking the folder under his arm, Garen held out the other hand to the little girl. “Come on, then, child-with-long-name.”
“Tell her, erelyan, Kaliu,” the man said, pushing her forward gently. “She doesn’t speak Basic, she’s only three. T’Narxai kersen nu, Kaliu. Dvesnan hol aliyar xek sholto nu. Xek berekes.”
As Garen picked her up, reluctant to go toddler-pace, she wriggled, holding out her arms to her brother. “Chenray…”
“Chenray xek varel nu, Kaliu,” he replied harshly. “Loal gehdyii xan nu wlen v wira.”
Sounding truly angry now, he snapped, “Nuxan lindaen w’sagen, dai-schen serl!”
“W’sagen? Ah, ten.” She nodded solemnly. “No, gehdyii nas?”
Deducing that the question meant to discover his name, Garen tapped his chest. “Garen Muln.”
“Geh-ren-mooln. T’Narxai kersen no, Geh-ren-mooln. Yuen Kaliu.”
“Okay. Whatever you say. Come on. Uh… Erelyan, Kaliu.”
Back at the ship, the five-year-old, Kijé, found the newcomer fascinating. “She’s blue,” he breathed in awe. “Can I talk to her, Master Rhara?”
“It doesn’t speak Basic,” Garen shrugged. “Good luck.”
Matter-of-factly, Kijé nodded. “Of course she doesn’t. I’ll work it out.” And work it out he did, informing Clee and Garen over the course of the journey that Kaliu liked the color purple, but liked green more, that she had three brothers and a sister, and that she was just a little nervous about the prospect of living in the Temple. After that she shut up and wouldn’t say another word in any language.
1200 hours: Great Gates of the Jedi Temple, Coruscant, Core Worlds
“They’re home! The Sentinels are back! Master Dooku sent me to say you better come quick!” Eight-year-old Foxtan Dubh skittered into the medcenter out of breath, head-tails in wild disorder, and quivering with excitement. A month ago, the great news in the Temple was that three Sentinel Jedi – a Master and two Padawans – had been taken hostage by a terrorist group, or a crime ring, depending on who you asked, somewhere in Hutt Space. Why Master Dooku, a Sentinel himself although on the Council, had gone in search of them alone and without telling anybody… was a question for another day, since he had in fact found them and brought them safely home.
Setting down a bottle of bacta ointment, Healer Vokara Che admonished her small charge, “Now, don’t you dare itch that, Sima, and stop whining: it was a wasp, not a sand viper!” and followed Foxtan back to the hangar where the ship had just landed.
There, Master Lusien Gorixo shifted slightly to nod to her, but at once turned back to his Padawan, a gangly dark Karori boy, thinner even than most boys of the age when height outstrips bulk, and currently lying unconscious on the permacrete floor of the hangar, head pillowed on his Master’s cloak.
When he saw the Twi’lek healer, the other rescued Padawan, Twi’lek himself, abandoned an animated discussion in Sindari with Master Dooku, and flung himself on her in an extravagance of delight; specifically, a bone-crushing hug.
“Auntie Vo! Man, that was a crazy trip. Are you glad to see me?”
“Reseda, I admit we are related, but I can assure you that whatever else I am I am not your aunt. What’s wrong with your friend? You appear to be quite disgustingly healthy.”
“Oh. ‘Roni. Yeah.” Reseda’s lekku drooped dejectedly. “He kicked up a fuss early in the piece, so the bogeys decided to save themselves a headache and keep him in a cold cell with no food worth speaking of. You know ‘Roni: thinks he’s starving even when he ain’t. But I’ll say for him he don’t complain so much when he actually is. ‘Course, Lusien’s jus’ a li’l bit worried, being as how ‘Roni’s well and truly your province now.”
“I see.” Stepping across the hangar, Vokara held a whispered conference with Master Gorixo, which ended in the Master picking up his comatose Padawan with a forced joke about the boy’s lightness, and following Vokara back to the medcenter to consult Chief Healer Master Li.
1500 hours, Youngling Halls of the Jedi Temple
“‘Scuse me, Master Alann…” a youngling ventured brightly, craning his head around the door to the Master of Younglings’ office, “Master Jinn’s here to talk to you.”
Master Jinn was waiting in the day room of the chaotic nursery, studiously ignoring the younger generation as they seethed about their deeply serious childish business. He looked vastly relieved to see Ali-Alann, and came to the point at once, dispensing with unnecessary niceties.
“I’m told a child arrived from Saalis in the Rim today. I have to see her.”
“No.” Master Alann was adamant. “Not even for you will I go through all that again, Qui-Gon. She’s got some cultural prejudice against fair-haired Humans and I’d rather not take the risk, if it’s all the same to you. At least until I know how loose her definition of fair is and whether it extends into grey.”
“It’s not all the same. This is important, Ali. How bad can it be?”
“She bursts into tears and tries to run away and hide. I can’t reason with a child who can’t and won’t understand me; the only being around here she’ll even try to talk to is one of the little boys. Padawan Tachi came in here to help – you know her, the pretty blonde – and I had to send her away. Your Padawan stopped by, the girl took one look at him, and then screamed herself sick. At the moment she’s asleep in a makeshift bed in my office and I’d be happy if she could stay so. What’s the matter, anyway?”
“Nothing’s wrong. If the child is who I suspect she is, her mother is a friend of mine.”
“Ah.” For a moment, the other Master’s face worked strangely. “That is a pity. Well. If she is who you think she is, your friend died three years ago. I’m sorry. Sorry you had to hear it from me.”
“Three years…” Master Jinn nodded curtly. “I see. Thank you. You said she talks to a boy here? May I borrow him for a few hours?”
“If you wish. Try not to frighten him, he’s only five. Nightmares like Obi-Wan used to get from your benighted stories are the last thing I need right now.” Turning to the youngling who had originally come to fetch him, still standing quietly by, Master Alann asked, “Jodiit, would you find Kijé Yenseh who arrived today from Skye, and tell him to come here?”
Somewhat ghoulishly, Jodiit grinned. “He’s in trouble? Right away!”
When Kijé appeared, black brows drawn together in apprehension under his tangle of dark curls, he did not – surprisingly for a youngling of that age – instantly break into protestations that he hadn’t done anything, but merely bowed to the two Masters and waited for instructions. Ali-Alann lost no time in giving them.
“You are to go with this Master for the afternoon and do whatever he tells you.”
The boy murmured docilely, “I am at your service, Master…?”
“Jinn. Now come. You are going to be busy.”
“Okay.” Kijé trotted out of the youngling halls without demur, or even request to wait for me.
1530 hours, Archives of the Jedi Temple
On the way to the Archives, Qui-Gon had turned abruptly to Kijé. “The girl who came here with you: why doesn’t she like Humans?”
“Kaliu. Her name is Kaliu. I’m afraid I don’t know, Master Jinn. It doesn’t help that I don’t speak Saalis and she don’t speak Basic.” He had paused to think. “The only word I caught about that was… ee-relt-shen-di.” He pronounced the syllables carefully.
“Shendi. That makes it easier.” Qui-Gon had dialed a comlink callsign and said rapidly, “Meet me in the Archives. Find J’Kurran Dachonisa and bring him with you.”
Now, in the elegant hall that was Madam Nu the Archivist’s special domain, Qui-Gon selected a data terminal in one of the dim back corners; in, in fact, the end of the only aisle not guarded by the bronzium memorial statue of one of The Lost, and pointed Kijé into the seat.
“You can read Aurebesh charactery, I suppose?”
“Slowly, but… yes.”
“Open a search for Saalis.”
“I… uh…” Fingers hovering nervously over the keypad, the boy admitted in a faint whisper, “I ‘pologize for my incompetence, sir. I don’t know how.” His thin back tensed as if in waiting for a blow, but none came.
Qui-Gon merely nodded. “Press the senth key. Aurek. Aurek. Leth. Isk. And senth again. Now enter that – the key with the crooked arrow. Good.”
Before the search results were all arrayed on the data screen, a murmur of voices came from the central arches of the Archives, one bored, one vaguely incredulous, and the third crisply informative. Information bustled away with a swish of tunics, and incredulity strolled over to stand at the head of the aisle.
“Master… another pathetic life form?”
“Kijé, Obi-Wan Kenobi and J’Kurran Dachonisa. I’m responsible for Obi-Wan, not that it shows.”
“Is this important?” J’Kurran asked impatiently. “Or can I vanish? I mean, nothing against you, Master Jinn, but…”
“If you prefer to fritter away your spare time than to do something helpful, leave, by all means.”
“Thanks.” The Padawan expressed his thanks in a glowing smile and hastily disappeared.
“Obi-Wan, do you know of any connection between the Shendi and the planet of Saalis?”
Obi-Wan leaned over to try and see the screen. “I’m sure there’s a point to that question. I didn’t even know there was a planet called Saalis. There’s a spare terminal next to this one; I’ll see what I can find.”
For almost an hour, the only sounds to disturb that corner of the archives were the clicking of keys, and Qui-Gon’s occasional whispered instructions to Kijé, though there came to be less need of that over time: the boy was a fast learner and did not readily forget what he had been taught.
Finally, Obi-Wan looked up from his data screen. “Here, Master. A different tribe of the Shendi invaded Saalis eight hundred years ago, and the planet only won back its independence seventy years ago. That seems to be the only connection.”
“That explains it. Thank you, Obi-Wan, that was all.”
“Have you worked out the answer, sir?” Kijé ventured respectfully.
“Yes.” Reaching across Kijé to summon a dictionary onto the data screen, Qui-Gon wrote a few words on a slip of flimsi, checked what he had written against the screen, and handed the note to the patient youngling.
“Kijé, go back to the nursery now, and when you next see Kaliu, tell her exactly what is written there.”
As Kijé took the paper and stood up, he asked uncertainly, “I am allowed to go about the Temple alone?”
“You’re certainly allowed to return to the youngling quarters alone.”
2000 hours, Youngling Halls of the Jedi Temple
The moons rose over Coruscant, spilling their silver glow over the Temple and in at the window of one of the younglings’ sleeping rooms. In the wide windowsill, a tiny shadow knelt, pressing her soft hands to the transparitsteel separating her from the night outside, and whispering heartbrokenly in an incomprehensible tongue. Clambering up beside her, Kijé recited the words he had hours since learned by heart.
“Qui-Gon Jinn hroest: Gehdyii Shendialen mikri v kynanze. Loal wira xek sholto nu.”
For a second, Kaliu stared at him in frank confusion, before saying, very slowly and carefully, “O-ka-ee. Ye-ess.”
Kijé could not enjoy the moment for long, however, because the eldest youngling in that dormitory, the one who was supposed to keep order, sat up on his sleeping mat and snapped at them in his most authoritarian voice to get back to bed.
“You’ve got all lifetime to get to know each other, idiots!”
“All right, Telcontir,” Kijé replied equably, helping Kaliu down from the windowsill. “It can wait.”
Answers, given in order of appearance/mention: Garen Muln, Clee Rhara, Kijé Yenseh, Yoda, Minetz Threeb, Nasriel (Imeltaneska-Kaliu Hrabe) Threeb, Nahari and Sien Threeb, Foxtan Dubh, Octavius Dooku, Vokara Che, Sima Orezna, Lusien Gorixo, Jiron Jados, Reseda Che, Ben To Li, Ali-Alann, Jodiit Reay, Qui-Gon Jinn, Siri Tachi, Obi-Wan Kenobi, J’Kurran Dachonisa, Jocasta Nu, Telcontir Leannen.